Elks Lodge awards nursing scholarship to Happy Valley graduate
Published 10:00 am Monday, May 23, 2016
A Happy Valley High School student was awarded an $8,000 Elks Benevolent Trust Nursing Scholarship from the Elizabethton Elks Lodge 1847 Thursday to pursue an education and career as a nurse practitioner.
Grace Hannah Smith was selected after submitting a detailed application, essay and recommendation letter and being selected by lodge members at the state level. She will be awarded $2,000 each year for four years.
Elizabethton Lodge President Jacklyn Morris said she was selected, not because of her high grades, but because of her excellent letter explaining why she personally wants to be a nurse.
“We have students apply with really good ACT scores, but then they learn nursing is not what they want to do,” Morris said. “She had a really good letter, a great work ethic with multiple hours of community service.”
On Thursday, the lodge treated Smith along with her parents Steven and Karen and sister Clara to dinner at Dino’s Restaurant along with a plaque, flowers and an Elks Medallion.
“She has always been a hard worker with a service-oriented heart,” her mother said. “She has done a lot of volunteer work, and I knew one day it would pay off. We couldn’t be more proud.”
Her father said that everything she has accomplished was done out of personal motivation and a drive to succeed.
Hannah said she was very grateful for the scholarship and thanked the Elks Lodge for this opportunity.
“I was very surprised and shocked, but I could only thank God for it,” Hannah said. “I really want to be a nurse to help my community. I’ve volunteered, and I think we really need nurses who are caring, and I want to bring that back to the community.”
Her letter to the Elks Lodge explained why she wants to be a nurse, and why it is important for her to bring those skills back to her hometown. She emphasized the importance of patient centered care, which she has learned in a number of nursing courses at school, in Health Occupation Students of America, and while earning her Certified Nurse’s Assistant license. She also volunteers at Ivy Hall Nursing home, where she said she realized in practice the importance of treating each patient with respect.
“Having a heart for my fellow Tennesseeans, I can make a difference in patient care, helping with addiction issues and educating my community about the best nutrition for their families by using my education in the medical field,” Smith wrote in her application essay.
Receiving her formal education is vital to attaining those goals, she said. Her diligence in high school courses and extracurricular activities supports her passion about education and the community.
While graduating with a 3.8 grade point average, she also made time to be a Happy Valley cheerleader and cheerleading coach, and she tutors other students. For years, she has been a member of PEP Club and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She is also active at Piney Grove Freewill Baptist Church as an assistant Sunday school teacher and as a food drive organizer.
“Because Hannah has such a nurturing spirit, many students have made incredible gains in their classes and on state test scores,” Happy Valley school counselor Jennifer Ellis wrote in a recommendation.
On top of all these, she has taken every dual enrollment course offered and worked at Chick-fil-A to pay for her participation in clubs and athletics. She was also selected to participate in the youth Leadership Program offered by Milligan College and the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce.
“Hannah is one of the few students that I can honestly say excels in all areas of her life,” her school counselor Jennifer Ellis wrote in a recommendation letter.